PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: Dead Men Tell No Tales

3 Stars – Suspenseful

The fifth film of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise continues the imaginative adventures of Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp).  Although he has degenerated into a drunken shadow of his former self, Captain Jack is nevertheless unparalleled in his inventive leadership.  This leadership is not only astute in human behavior but also in the magical and mythical powers that are woven seamlessly into the pirate’s life.  It is this magical and entertainingly choreographed physical adventure that we have come to expect from these films.

In this fifth episode of the tale, we are introduced to two new heroes and a vengeful villain.  The two heroes are the determined Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites) and the brilliant Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario).  Henry is the son of Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) who has dedicated his life to freeing his father from the curse he accepted in order to save his father before him.  This three-generational commitment of sacrificial love and relentless drive to free an enslaved father is a powerful theme for the film’s action.  But what drives the story even further is that Carina had been left in an orphanage by her father with a special diary that has become the guiding light of her life.  Having rejected all myths for science to unlock the navigational map of the stars, Carina becomes bound to Henry whose belief in the myths is not theoretical but very personal.  This partnership sparks the predictable romantic interest which complicates their attempt to find Poseidon’s Trident which will free Henry’s father. In order to accomplish this, Henry solicits the help of Captain Jack and has to save him as well as Carina from execution to do so.

The villain of this episode is the Spaniard Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem).  Having taken on the task of ridding the seas of pirates, Salazar had the unfortunate experience of becoming victim to Captain Jack’s ingenuity and has been held captive in the endless curse of the Devil’s Triangle.  However, what held him prisoner was the magical compass in Captain Jack’s possession.  But in his drunken foolishness, Captain Jack releases ownership of the compass and Salazar is freed to seek his revenge.

The other primary character in the film is Captain Jack’s nemesis Captain Hector Barbosa (Geoffrey Rush).  Having taken over the seas due to Captain Jack’s absence, Barbosa has ten ships on the seas and his own vessel is loaded with treasure.  However, when Salazar becomes free, he starts destroying Barbosa’s fleet with his supernatural merciless hatred.  To save himself and his ships, Barbosa makes a bargain to lead Salazar to Captain Jack so he can have revenge. 

As is also true of the other episodes of the tale, the British navy is in pursuit of the pirates to gain power to control the seas.  In this instance, the British are also after the Trident.  It is this mutual journey that brings everyone to a singular event that proves to be both tragic and restorative.  We won’t spoil how all the various elements come together except to say that there is more to come.  Be sure and stay after the long credits for the teaser for the next film.

Discussion:

  1. For those who see all the films in this franchise, there seems to be a lack of concern for consistency.  Do you find that distracting or unnecessary for this type of film?
  2. The power of the Devil’s Triangle to keep Salazar in animated death is broken when Captain Jack releases ownership of the compass but this is not explained.  Why do you think this connection between the compass and the curse exists?
  3. The dialogue between Carina’s appreciation for science and Henry’s affirmation of mythical power seems to be solved by having Carina come over to Henry’s side.  Do you see this as an affirmation of the spiritual or as a part of the mythical nature of the series?
  4. Is the story’s resolution of Henry and Carina’s search for their fathers believable and satisfying at the end of the film?  Why or why not?

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Posted on May 31, 2017 and filed under 3 STARS, SUSPENSEFUL.